Oldest Schoolhouse

Oldest Schoolhouse

Here is Anne the teacher standing in front of the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America. Located in St. Augustine, where everything is labeled ancient*, we viewed this venerable tourist attraction only from the outside, electing not to go inside. Even though the price of admission would have entitled us each to a diploma. The self-guided tour has an animatronic teacher and student giving a brief history on the house. Note that this school is qualified as the oldest wooden schoolhouse. The oldest school is on Staten Island and is not made of wood. As you can see, it was cold there, but not as cold as where you were. 

* In no way am I inferring that Anne is the oldest wooden teacher.

School of Rock

School of Rock

Last night, we went to the Fabulous Fox to see the Broadway musical, “School of Rock”. This show’s tickets were our deadline for our return to Saint Louis. The show is based upon the 2003 Jack Black comedy movie of the same name. Music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast is evenly divided between adults and 5th-graders, with the central figure, Dewey, straddling both categories. Dewey is an out of work rock-wannabe, who in the opening scene is kicked out of the band that he created.

Under pressure to come up with rent money (You must pay the rent! I can’t pay the rent.), he takes up a substitute teaching position at preppy Horace Green Elementary, masquerading as his roommate, Mr. Schneebly. Discovering that these stuck-up kids actually have musical talent, Dewey decides to use them to win the upcoming battle of the bands competition. What could go wrong?

The kids were delightful in their roles and enthralled their numerous young audience counterparts, especially when they called on everyone to “Stick it to the man!” It was announced before the show that the children actually play their own instruments. I’m going to have to look into this talent thing, it looks quite useful. Overall, the show was an enjoyable, light and fun fare. I was glad to see that Sir Webber is settling nicely into his second childhood.

We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place, when this morning’s call came all too early. Anne received the call to arms. Kelly’s robo-call detailed her Early Childhood Center (ECC) assignment as “Eek!” Exactly.

Before we left for Florida, I had repeatedly implored Anne not to take any jobs at ECC, also-know-as plague central and she heeded me. So, while in Florida, we survived alligators, poisonous snakes and Florida drivers, all without incurring any illnesses. While, we were away, Anne monitored the situation back at the elementary school, where at least some of the older students there seem capable of spelling the word hygiene.

There was the late-start morning caused when too many of the bus drivers were sick with the flu, to man all the vehicles and there was that one plaintive plea for Kleenex from the office. We missed all that, but today Anne dove headfirst into an inevitably worse situation. I however found myself left to my own devices and it is such a beautiful day. I think that instead of sticking it to the man, I’ll go out and play. Rock-on!


Friday Night, Cook’s Night Out

Fresh Eggs

As amazing as this rather retro poster’s price is, I bought eggs last week for 49¢. It was a fluke, because the next time I shopped for eggs they were a much less surprising $1.49. I don’t think that it was a typo though.

I picked Anne up from school. Our destination was the Maplewood business district and their Christmas tree lighting. On the way over, Anne vented about her day:

A 3rd Grader: Why did you mark all my answers wrong?
Our Favorite Teacher: I’m working with this student. Please wait your turn.
A3G: You always mark my answers wrong, because you don’t like me.
OFT: I grade tests independent of who took it.
A3G: You hate me!
OFT: I do not hate you.
A3G: You just said, “I […] hate you.”

The MRH Elementary School choir was the highlight of the tree ceremony. We tried shopping at some of the stores, but they were all slammed. I’ll swing by later, during the week, when they will be less crowded. We supped at Reed’s American Table and shared 3 small plates for dinner:

kale salad, apricots, cherries, pecans, Stilton blue cheese & juniper dressing
“lobster” roll, butter poached monk fish, sauce americaine, brioche, tarragon & chive
mushroom panna cotta, leaks, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, frisee salad, grapes & walnut vinaigrette

For dessert, we shared:

persimmon tart, nutmeg oat streusel, brandy caramel & vanilla whipped cream

After eating out at Reed’s, the difference between buying eggs at 49¢ versus $1.49 was just budget dust. There was frost on the windshield and there is now snow on the blog. This Christmas thing is starting to get real. Happy Holidays!


The American Flag

Earlier this week, during broadcast, Anne noticed that a couple of her students refrained from standing during the Pledge of Allegiance. They remained sitting. Later, she asked these individuals about this and was told, “I don’t like the Pledge of Allegiance.” It soon became clear that they were protesting. She suggested that they kneel, like the football player do, because if you sit, then no one knows if you are trying to make a point or not. The next day they knelt.

Yesterday, with her hand over her heart, Anne also knelt and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. After broadcast she led a class discussion about these actions. Some students spoke of racial injustice and others of respect for the flag. The third graders were able to hold a deep and respectful discussion, even when they disagreed. One student pointed out that in church, we kneel to God. Anne explained her actions. She feels that the pledge’s promise, “with liberty and justice for all”, is not honored and should be and until it is this contradiction should be protested. Later, another teacher told Anne of another sitting that had occurred in her room.

In many jobs, Anne’s actions could be grounds for dismissal, but in teaching it is another educational moment. Current 3rd grade curriculum includes lessons in restorative justice. I’ve always respected Anne, she is the angel of my better nature and I cannot contain the pride that I feel, being married to this woman.

When Colin Kaepernick began sitting during the National Anthem and this year when many other NFL players took a knee, President Trump reacted in his usual manner. I’m sure he was pleased with the response from his base, but I am unsure about how he feels now that these issues have percolated down to the 3rd grade. It is not going away folks. Not in my lifetime, not in his and probably not in yours either. Maybe, it is time that we all start dealing with it? 

Active Shooter

Sea Nettle

In prep for this post I searched my not insignificant photo archive with the words: gun, pistol, rifle, shoot, shot, weapon and many others. All in search for a relevant graphic. Na da! The best that I could come up with was Civil War cannon. Do I live such a sheltered existence that none of these images have made it into my life? Instead, I chose this jellyfish picture as emblematic of my flaying and flopping about, but beware, because it also symbolizes my sometime nettlesome character and stinging wit. 🙄

Since, I’ve returned from New York, Anne’s work schedule has been grueling. She came down with a cold, lost her voice, had to prepare report cards and then work two 13-hour days teaching and then hosting parent-teacher conferences. Friday, almost as a reward, the faculty had a professional development day. In days past these PD days served to hone teacher’s educational skills, but as my title implies, this day was all about survival. This training topic was presented by local law enforcement. I would have liked to tell you that no teachers were injured in the course of this training, but suffice to say that Anne was not hurt. The day could best be summed up with this quote, “All right, folks we did not die today. I’d call that an unqualified success.

After training, Anne was speaking with a colleague about the NYT’s 7-minute workout. Her friend was doing it. Anne said that she had been, but since her car died, she has substituted walking home. The following conversation ensued:

Friend: That’s a long walk!
Anne: It’s not so far.
Friend: It is. I know where you live. I used to date Mark.
Anne: Mark’s my husband. Oh, you mean the Mark down the block?!?

Mark: What’s her name again? It is so hard keeping them all straight.

Kudus to Her

Lesser Kudu

Anne wrapped up her long-term substitute transition period yesterday, with a 3rd-grade field trip to the Missouri History Museum. The students went to see, “#1 in Civil Rights: The African-American Freedom Struggle in Saint Louis”. Anne and I had already visited this exhibit. A docent met them at the curb, when the buses pulled up. This large group was split, half viewed the exhibit first and half had a classroom activity. Anne’s group started in the exhibit, where curators emphasized three aspects of the show: the 19th-century struggle against slavery, the sixties civil rights movement and the Ferguson demonstrations. Classroom activity involved making demonstration signs. I can hear the eye-rolling out there, but the kids were really engaged and not all of the signs were race related.